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VRconnection Tutorial - Responding to Inquiries
Responding to Inquiries
Once your property listing has been established, potential guests will have the option to make e-mail inquiries into securing a stay at your place. Attached to your listing is a 'Make an Inquiry' form (right) that obtains some information about the desired stay including:
  • Arrival & departure information
  • Number of adults/children/pets (if allowed)
  • Contact information (name, phone, e-mail)
  • Any questions or comments the prospective guest may have

VRconnection then forwards a notification of the inquiry to your private e-mail address, with a Web link that will take you back to the VRconnection Web site so that you can quickly respond to the inquiry.

When responding to inquiries, VRconnection quickly assesses the inquiry in terms of your property's availability, identifying any conflicting reservations, offers, or other inquiries that may exist (see screen shot to the left). The 'Conflicts' section of the page will list any pending or outstanding transactions that conflict. Bolded conflicts require your attention and red bolded ones would indicate major conflicts. Any significant conflicts would also be denoted on the calendar display on the left. The system will also provide some insight into your past history for the dates in question under the 'Rental History' section. This can help you better price the stay, by providing details on your past rental history.

At this point, you have a few response options:

Property Unavailable
If the property is unavailable for all or the majority of the requested dates (this would be indicated by red bolded conflicts in the 'Conflicts' section of the response page as well as red dates denoted on the calendar), click the option to 'Respond that home is not Available'. VRconnection will load a default message 'template' (which you can custom tailor) into its built in e-mail editor. Here you can make minor edits to respond to any questions that may have been posed. Once the message is edited to your liking, click the "Send" button and VRconnection will send the e-mail and you've promptly and professionally responded to the inquiry in a few seconds. VRconnection will even place the request on a waiting list, so that in the event that there is a cancellation of the conflicting reservation, you would be able to easily re-contact those that were interested in the property for the conflicting dates.

Offering a Reservation
If the requested stay can be accommodated and you have performed the necessary due diligence to be comfortable hosting the prospective guest (via phone calls or by using the 'Custom Response' option to continue an e-mail exchange), click the "Offer a reservation" option. This two step process will first bring up a form (right) that will allow you to put together a reservation offer to the prospective guest. This form allows you to specify the costs for the rental period, including any taxes, fees for cleaning, and security deposits. You can also specify what payment options you wish to offer (Credit Card, PayPal, Personal Check, etc.)

In addition to working out the cost and payment details, the offer form allows you to specify whether or not you want to use a rental agreement (which is recommended and you can customize). VRconnection will automatically generate and present the agreement to the prospective guest and you can choose to have acceptance performed online (where a copy of the accepted rental agreement is e-mailed to both parties, complete with timestamps) or require them to print, sign, and return it, in which case a printable version will be made available to the guest.

Finally, you can specify some additional options in terms of how offers affect your availability calendar and the time frames when certain items are due. The system supports both a two payment model (deposit then balance) as well as a three payment approach (deposit, second payment, balance). Much of the form can be pre-configured to use default settings so that each offer you make will only require minor adjustments to account for any deviations from your standard approach.

When the offer details have been specified, clicking the "Save Offer" button takes you to the second step of the process which has you review (and possibly edit) the rental agreement that will be presented. Below that you will find VRconnection's built-in e-mail editor loaded with a pre-configured 'template' (that can once again be custom tailored) that will serve as a 'cover letter' for your reservation offer. The cover letter e-mail simply summarizes the offer, answers any questions that may have been posed, and provides a link that the prospective guest can use to either accept or decline the offer.

Just like any other message that is composed in the VRconnection e-mail editor, all of your communications can be adjusted as needed. The system employs a series of message 'templates' that simply act as starting points for your communications, cutting down on a lot of the busywork a traditional vacation rental owner will find themselves doing when they need to say the same or similar things to different prospective guests. VRconnection's powerful template technology allows you to craft the bulk of your responses one time, using embedded 'placeholders' (think mail merge) that will be replaced with specific information pertaining to the transaction at hand. For example, the placeholder {{REQ_ARRIVE}} will be replaced with the arrival date for the reservation when a message is initially composed. The system provides over 100 placeholders that allow you to intricately customize your e-mail responses so that they are much more personal and pertinent. Of course, you are welcome to use the default templates the system provides and you can also directly edit the composed messages to add or remove any details as the situation might warrant.

Once the cover letter has been proof-read and adjusted as needed, a click of the 'Send' button e-mails the message to the prospective guest. After a couple of run throughs to familiarize yourself with the procedure, the entire inquiry response process should take but a few minutes of your time. The nice thing about our approach is that it can automatically work with inquiries generated from other listing services, or those you get from offline advertising as well. Each inquiry you get is easily and professional responded to, giving your prospective guests a sense that you are very organized and responsible, which can go a long way in securing a reservation and having guests return to your rental time and time again.

If you like what you see so far, click here to list and manage your property with VRconnection. Otherwise, let's continue the tutorial with reservation acceptance.

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